Study Finds Dangerous 'Forever Chemicals' Are Linked To Liver Cancer

Forever chemicals are a group of synthetic chemicals called per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and they get their name because it takes them a long time to break down. As a result of them being in the environment for years, they end up in our water supplies and soil, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency reports that PFAS are used extensively around the world to manufacture many stain-resistant items, like microwave popcorn bags, pizza boxes, and takeout food packages. They are also present in some shampoos, cosmetics, and dental floss. PFAS have also been detected in dairy products and some fish that were caught in water contaminated by the chemicals.  

There are thousands of PFAS chemicals, and some could not only build up in the environment but in our bodies as well. The EPA has recognized that they can be harmful to the health of humans and animals. Now, new research links these "forever chemicals" to a common form of liver cancer.

High exposure to PFAS increase the risk of liver cancer

The study, published in the JHEP Reports, revealed that exposure to high levels of (PFAS) was linked to an increased risk of non-viral hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common form of liver cancer. Out of more than 200,000 Los Angeles and Hawaii residents, researchers analyzed blood and tissue samples of 100 patients, of which 50 had developed liver cancer. They were looking specifically for "forever" chemicals and discovered that PFAS was the most dominant in the group of individuals with liver cancer. Moreover, they found that the top 10% of those exposed to PFAS were 4.5 times more likely to develop HCC, compared to those with the least amount of exposure to the chemicals.

The findings also suggested that high concentrations of forever chemicals hinder the liver's ability to metabolize glucose, branched chain amino acids, bile acid, and some fatty acids. Researchers concluded that liver disease was likely the result of the liver's inability to function properly. They also acknowledged that larger studies were needed to verify their findings.